where-in-the-world-is-carmen-sandiego-game

As an app’s user base grows, it’s likely the developer will start to consider localizing the app; that is they will consider translating the app and user experience into a new language to grow in another country or local. There are numerous articles and guides written about the process of localizing an app for another language, but I want to specifically address the process of researching competitors in a localized market.

The Apple App Store has no functionality to search apps by language. In other words, there’s no built-in way to see apps that offer specific languages (or are only available in one language). This makes it very difficult to see who else will be competing for your same users.

However, I’ve found a trick that allowed me to search for apps in a certain language, which can be a great help in finding local competitors. For the example below, I’ll illustrate how to search for social media apps that are localized for the Spanish language.

First, you’ll need to navigate on the web to the App Store in the language and category you want to research. The easiest way to do this is view your own app, or a direct competitor’s app first in your native language. I’ve used the example of Facebook below:

appstoreurl

Notice the URL of the app in my case contains /gb/, which denotes the country (and language) of the app store I am viewing. However I can change this. To see this same app in the Spanish App Store, all I need to do is change this to /es/.

Notice below that once I change the URL, the meta data of the page changes as well (as does the app description if the app already has a localized version). This is important for the next step of the research process – in particular the localized version of the category and the meta data that denotes language.

appstore-es

Now we have three key bits of information: the URL format for the local app store, the localized meta data for language and the localized meta data for category. Using the Google site search function, we can put this all into a Google search. As you can see below, I am searching for all pages indexed in Google that are within the Spanish App Store site, and contain exactly the phrase that corresponds with the meta data that indicates the app is in the social category and available in the Spanish language.

google-search-lang

As you can see, the search results returned will link me to pages within the Spanish App Store with Spanish language social apps. Job done!

lang-results

This is a huge volume of search results so I can continue to refine the results to just my potential competitors by adding additional keywords (in the local language of course – Google Translate can help you out here) to my Google search.

Understanding local competitors can be key in successfully localizing your app. This is one way to find out who the players are in your new space. Any other techniques you know for finding competitive apps when localizing?

Detailed rendering of a flight information board showing all flights delayed.

While a wealth of analytics tools gives us increasingly detailed views into how users navigate through our systems, services and apps, there’s no metric that tells you how your users were feeling at the time. In fact many of the terms that we measure for technology services, such as bounce rate, retention and number of pages viewed, all act as a stand in for how users were feeling – and one emotion in particular: frustration.

Frustration is the silent killer of technology businesses. It’s the feeling that causes users to close the screen, or worse delete the app, without giving you any idea as to why. Sometimes frustration can build over time, meaning that a series of frustrations can lead to a developer mis-attributing the source of lost users. Of course you can survey your users, run user tests and look to your app reviews for indications as to how people felt about your service, but by the time someone has become frustrated or annoyed it’s unlikely they want to spend additional time providing feedback.

However there is one metric that, at least in the mobile app world, can often be a strong indicator of the building level of frustration of your users – and that is time.

Coming from a web marketing world, where “time on page” was a key metric that web owners tried to optimize for, not against, it’s a fairly significant change in thinking. But with such limited real estate on a mobile app screen, there’s not a huge amount to occupy a user’s time on functional pages – such as screens to sign up, options, invite or settings. Increased time spent on these screens can signal that something is overly complicated, difficult to understand or generally frustrating for the user.

There are a number of tools that help app developer measure time spent per screen, although all have limitations and a fair bit of set up required. The one that gives the best indication is Google Analytics for Mobile:

timeonscreen

However to get an accurate reading for this metric, Google requires a lot of advanced set up, including detailed naming of all of the screens within your app. Additionally, Google is great for looking at average results across your whole audience but has significant limitations for drilling down into your audience – it’s much harder to see who is having trouble with your app screens and the range of times it takes different segments of your audience to move through your app.

An alternative is Mixpanel which doesn’t allow you to see the average time that users spend on a specific screen, but does allow you to see the time it takes for user to move through a series of predefined steps in, say, a sign up funnel.

mixpaneltime

Like Google, Mixpanel requires some initial set up, but allows for much greater segmentation of your userbase, to determine which subsets of your users are taking the most time to get through your app. For many independent developers, however, Mixpanel’s higher costs can be off-putting.

Regardless of how you measure the time that users spend on various screens within the app or service, this us an often under-utilized metric that tells you quite a bit about how frustrated or confused your users are. If a screen that takes you 15-20 seconds to pass through has an average use time of over a minute, your audience could be missing the point, unable to find a button or unsure of what to do.

Using time as a proxy for frustration in your app or service can help highlight places where you’re causing users to fall out of love with your product, even if it’s not the place where they give up on your app entirely.

A quick one before a more thorough summary of my week at Mobile World Congress – I gave this talk as part of the Advanced User Interfaces Seminar at Mobile World Congress 2014 (#mwc14) hosted by the UK’s ICT KTN. It covers the challenges and proposes some solutions in designing and testing apps and mobile services geared towards a non-traditional audience such as elderly, disabled or young users.

Image 2014-02-21 at 9.12.30 AM

Amazed and impressed to see this on my Facebook feed. Had completely forgotten! Just goes to show that you can’t judge the boot-strapping startup by their early inability to pay designers.

Self-Aware-Calvin&Hobbes

Reposted from an answer added to a Quora topic I found quite interesting asking “What tools can I use to evaluate brand awareness.

I have a pretty regular routine for checking brand awareness and reach, using a combination of manual and automated tools.

First thing each day, I search for our brand on Google, filtering the results to the last 24 hours. This shows me new press coverage and blog mentions, as well as some social content.

I then check Netvibes (Social Media Monitoring, Analytics and Alerts Dashboard) where I have a series of boards set up to check internet forums, blog searches, Instagram posts, Google Plus, Facebook and other channels. I find that volume of organic mentions on Facebook tends to correlate well to overall brand awareness so that’s a very important metric for me.

Next I check on Tweetdeck for saved searches of variations on our brand name (i.e. 23 Snaps instead of 23snaps) for anything I might have missed on the other searches.

This all takes me about 5 minutes, if that. I also respond to any relevant mentions, either thanking the author for their comment, reposting positive remarks or answering questions.

Finally, I have saved Google Alerts (Monitor the Web for interesting new content) that will ping me an email if anything about our brand gets indexed. I also have saved alerts for our competitors and a few major trends in our industry.

Do you have any additional tools or services you use to monitor brand awareness?

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